Prayer’s Liberating Burden

I suffer, and you suffer. It’s what we do as human beings. Whether it’s a nagging muscle ache, or an ongoing battle with run away emotions, it’s the common thread we share. When we are privy to the pain of another, our first call is intercession. That good and redemptive act does two things tantamount to helping both parties through crisis. First, it insulates us from the heaviness that comes in association with the suffering of another. The scriptures say to bear one another’s burden, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. However, that doesn’t mean to assume the largess of pain. It means to stay under, as if supporting the arms of, while remaining strong enough and buoyant enough to support the other. It also brings God’s power into the center of suffering, acknowledging His rule over our lives, and asking Him for wisdom to navigate it’s crucible.
My friend Larry has been battling the effects of Hepatitis C for 20 years. Today, after a liver transplant, he’s going blind, losing the fight over his kidneys, and facing dim prospects of recovery. I have walked beside him for years listening, praying, always praying for God to lift his eyes unto the hills, from whence his help comes. If I don’t intercede often for him, I begin to start feeling the heaviness of the weight he carries. When I do pray, I again release Him into better hands, whose careful wisdom is bringing him into closer and closer fellowship with God. I’ve watched it happen. Larry is more in love with Jesus than any person I know. Our friendship has been a side-by-side affection looking squarely at the pending medical issues, and together facing them as men. The only explanation I have for the beauty of this friendship, and the hope we both have in God’s final outcome is that I never fail to lift my friend into the arms of Jesus.
I thought I knew love, until God called me to intercede in the face of crushing odds. Here, faith was born in the cauldron of dismay, of uncertainty, and of lessening hope. Here, I finally learned what it meant to love the way our Savior did, as He took our place, interceded beyond human reason and capacity, because the weight of sin and suffering’s incapacitation was too much for any human to carry. He carried it through His death-march to the cross. This, and only this is the weight one should carry, taking another’s place through intercession, fulfilling the strangely liberating burden, the law of Christ.

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